In India, one lakh new cases of oral cancer are detected annually, and 50,000 people succumb to the disease every year. Hence, Indoco Remedies, a research-led pharmaceutical company in Mumbai, organised an 'Early Detection of Oral Cancer Campaign' on July 27, which is observed as World Head and Neck Cancer Day. Oral cancer is the most common form of cancer, which mostly affects the middle-aged population, said Dr Prashant Pawar, senior consultant, head and neck onco-surgeon at Fortis Hospital, who addressed the gathering on the importance of early detection of oral cancer and its prevention.
The morbidity and mortality associated with oral cancer can be reduced by abstaining from tobacco, areca nut and alcohol—the main causative factors—and regular screening of high-risk individuals. “Tobacco control is one of the most extensively research-based practices that led to a drop in oral cancer incidence in many parts of the world,” said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, head and neck onco-surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital.
If oral cancer is detected early (stages 1 and 2), the cure rate is nearly 90 per cent. But if detected at later stages (stages 3 and 4), the survival rate reduces significantly—30 per cent to 40 per cent—despite the best treatment. “Almost 50 per cent cancer cases are detected in the head and neck region,” said Pawar. “Around 80 per cent cases are diagnosed in the advanced stage, which makes it all the more difficult to treat. Oral cancer is the number one cause for death among all types of cancers in India. Oral cancer appears as a growth or a sore in the mouth that does not go away. It includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses and pharynx [throat], and can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early. The best outcome for oral cancer is always when diagnosed early, not only in terms of survival but also in terms of functional rehabilitation.”
In order to increase awareness for early detection of oral cancer, Indoco, through its division, Warren, is conducting special seminars for medical practitioners. Further, these medical practitioners will actively work for early detection of oral cancer and counsel patients detected with precancerous lesions. Various towns, with a large population that suffers from oral cancer, have been identified for conducting these activities. Patient education information has also been developed for self-detection of oral cancer, which will be communicated to the masses through media. “Indoco is committed to creating awareness among patients, institutions and the medical fraternity,” said Aditi Kare Panandikar, managing director, Indoco Remedies. “And, efforts will be made on various platforms for early detection of oral cancer.”